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How My Other Half Lived… The Secrets of a 1980s Knitwear Designer EPISODE TWO

So, roll on to the year 1986.  I began a my own Knitwear Design Company. No training in fashion college, just an instinct and an eye for colour, shape and design.  I subscribed to all the top knitwear design industry magazines, and got my self the woolmark symbol licence.  Lainey Keogh was flying, why shouldn’t I?

So with a new knitting machine, wool from France, and a head full of designs, I knit my first collection of samples and hit the boutiques.  All the orders were ‘ sale or return’ and we were in the midst of the worst recession since the 1950s. So, were was this all going to lead?

I had an amazing response to my designs. Jackie Lavin had a boutique in Blackrock. I made an appointment to see her.  She got me to try on my designs and gave me a HUGE order.  I didn’t take on knitters, as I was afraid to compromise the quality and finish. The knits were retailing for between £150 and £250 each – a lot of money back then.

However Ireland was just not big enough.  I needed to export and get expert knitters on board.  I had a meeting with  Robin (can’t recall her last name) a senior buyer of Barneys New York, in the Westbury Hotel in January 1987. It was through a contact at a course I was on. She wanted to get me into Barneys with my own label.  I was in shock.

Upon advice I made an appointment with the Irish Export Board, who were in Sandymount at the time.

The result of that meeting will be in Episode Three!





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